If you and your dog have mastered the basic commands, now’s the time to move past obedience training and learn how to teach your dog more advanced tricks. Many of us think of training as something we do with puppies, but training can and should continue throughout your dog’s life. Learning new commands with your dog is so much more than a fun party trick— it keeps your dog sharp and helps him feel useful and busy.

To your dog, training combines three of the greatest pleasures in his life: spending time with you, making you happy, and being rewarded. And with these advanced tricks, you can teach your dog to be the life of the party or even help you with chores around the house.

PARTY TRICKS

These easy to learn tricks are huge crowd pleasers—Plus, your dog will love the praise and attention.

High Five

Start by making your dog sit, and reward him with a treat. Next hold a treat in front of him but just out of reach.

Repeat the command “high five” while gently tapping one of his front feet.

If your dog raises his foot to paw at the treat, catch it with your free hand. As soon as you make contact, give your dog the treat and praise.

Repeat these steps until your dog raises his paw automatically whenever you give the command.

If your pup is having trouble, encourage him to raise his paw by tapping the inside of your knee with your finger until he bends his leg. As soon as his paw leaves the ground, tickle the bottom of his foot to get him to raise the paw higher. Continue saying the “high five” command the whole time.

Eventually, just the sight of your open hand should be enough to encourage your dog to give you a high five!

Dance

Getting your dog to “get down” is simpler than it sounds. This trick will be easier for small dogs than for larger dogs, and you should avoid teaching it to dogs who are overweight or have issues with their hind legs.

First, get your dog to sit. Raise a treat over your dog’s head while repeating a command like “up,” or “dance.” Bring the treat slightly behind your dog’s head to force him to look up at it. Repeat until your dog raises up onto his hind legs and reward him.

If your dog has good balance in the standing position, you can add on a spin! While he’s standing, hold the treat in front of his nose and then slowly move it around his head until he spins to follow it. (Larger breeds might be unsteady on two feet, so work on standing before adding anything too fancy.)

CHORE TRICKS

What sounds like a chore to you can be a fun new activity for your dog. These tricks are a little more involved to train and learn, but the payoff can be huge!

Clean Up

Living room scattered with squeaky toys? Why not teach your dog to clean up after himself? Before attempting this trick, you’ll need a basket for his toys. Your dog should also know how to fetch.

Start on the floor with your dog’s toy basket in front of you. Throw one of his favorite toys across the room. When your dog picks up the toy, hold a treat up over the basket and call your pup back to you. If he drops the toy before making it back to the basket, hide the treat and start over.

Once he makes it to the basket, toy in mouth, hold the treat right over the basket and command your dog to release the toy. If he drops the toy into the basket, hand over that treat and a ton of praise.

Repeat, gradually moving the toy box away from you. Try it with your treating arm extended over the box, and eventually work up to simply pointing to the box.

Hit the Lights

It’s movie night but you’re too cozy on the couch to get up and hit the lights. Send your pup to set the mood. Here’s how to do it.

Choose the light switch you want to train your dog on. Avoid switches near anything fragile, like table lamps, or anything that’s hard for your dog to reach.

Call your dog over and ask him to sit.

Next, hold a treat on the wall, one inch above the light switch. Tap the treat on the wall to encourage your dog to jump up with his front paws. When he does it, give him the treat and praise.

Repeat this a few times to get your dog used to jumping onto the wall. Now, it’s time to work in the switch.

This time, tap the light switch with one hand. Keep the treat hidden in your other hand and hold it right above the light switch. When his paw touches the switch, say a command like “Hit the lights.” Praise and treat if he does it.

When your dog gets the hang of consistently pawing the light switch, put your treat hand down at your side. Tap the light switch and say your command. Reward only when your dog paws the switch and sits down.

Gradually move further from the switch. Your aim is to get your dog to “hit the lights” any time you say the command and point at the light switch.

Note that this trick is geared at medium to large dogs who can reach high enough! But if your smaller dog is determined enough, you can place a sturdy box or ottoman under the light switch to help him reach. Also, this trick shouldn't be taught to dogs with bad hips. 

LET’S SUM UP

When moving on to advanced tricks with your dog, it’s important to keep things easy for him where you can. Keep your commands to 1 or 2 syllable words and keep your training sessions short. Five minutes a day should do the trick! And remember to end on a high note—If your dog nails it before the five minute are up, end your training there. The trick is much likelier to stick if your pup ends your session feeling like the good boy he is.